Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No parking zone

I offer my apologies to Larissa Shasko, former leader of the Green Party, if her departure from the party in September was caused because of the Green's platform development.

I liked having the Green Party around because it was a place to park your vote if the status quo wasn't to your liking. After reading the Green Party platform in today's SP (October 25/11) this party should be designated as a "no parking" zone.

Item 1: Converting the Highways Ministry into a new Crown, giving no more work to private contractors and turning work over to "local people" - who would the local people be?

Item 2: Putting physicians on salary so they would work fewer hours and hiring other countries' doctors? If you think getting to see your family physician now is difficult, put them on a 9-to-5 day and see how long you wait. In fact just trying to get a family doctor right now is difficult. And we have already enlarged the medical programs. "Are doctors here to service the patients - or just make a fast buck and get rich off the patients?" Mr. Lau and his party obviously don't know that family doctors work long, hard hours and are not getting rich doing so. And the specialists would leave this province in droves if they were salaried - and for few that might stay the waiting time for an appointment would be unfathomable. And other countries would be taking our doctors.

Item 3: Capping class size to 20 students in K-12 and phasing out post-secondary tuition. I might agree with the capping class size for primary grades, but by time students get to high school part of what the system does is prepare them for post-secondary. Can you imagine the shock to students when they would leave a Grade 12 coddled class of 20 in June and enter a post-secondary theatre of 300 students in September? As for post-secondary tuition, taxpayers already pick up 80 to 90% of post-secondary costs.

The only good sense exhibited here was not providing estimated costs to these proposals - possibly because he can't count that high.

I truly wish the Greens had kept their focus on energy development and the environment.


  1. Mistress, do you not remember when your hair was long and your skirts were short and you had ideals and wanted to change the world.

  2. What do you mean "when" - maybe my hair is long and my skirts are still short! Although I recognize that the Green Party is unlikely to form government, I still cheered them on as being the conscience for the public - and I wanted the public to take their causes seriously. Platforms like this undermine their creditability.

  3. The green platform shows them for what they really are, watermelons, green on the outside and red on the inside.

    I have no interest in the Greens to be the conscience for anything. They see the capitalism as the root cause of all problems and are working to eradicate it in the utopian idea that the world would be a better place.

    It's best to banish them back to the era of the old Soviet Union where they can live in the socialist paradise which they crave so much. Where's a working time machine when you need one?

  4. I agree with many of the points addressed by the Mistress in this post, but I have to respectfully disagree with the part about class sizes in high school.

    Many high school students have a difficult enough time transitioning from elementary school (where they are generally supported very well); can you imagine how difficult it would be for some students to go from a highly structured, small class to a very large class with less support? I’m not sure it’s developmentally appropriate to make such a big jump in class size in such a short amount of time. The gradual progression of smaller to larger classes gives kids a chance to adjust and gradually learn independence.

    High school is not the “real world”, it’s training for the real world. The university-bound high school students will be able to handle larger class sizes, as they are usually not the ones who need the small student-teacher ratio. Every child has a right to a public, K-12 education; let’s not penalize the ones who aren’t university material.

  5. 1. I'm just guessing here, but I would think that "local people" would mean hiring qualified people who live in SK.

    2. One of the reasons it's so hard to see a doctor is because they are paid "piece work". The more "pieces" you push through, the more you make. Doctors have a vested interest in booking as many patients as possible and spending as little time with a patient as possible so they can see as many patients as they can and therefore bill as much as possible. If I had a dollar for every time a doctor made me wait because he/she booked 70 patients for 5 hour workday..

    If the salary is appropriate why would doctors leave the province? If you were a doctor, which would you prefer?

    Salary of $XXX,XXX/yr guaranteed


    Pay-per-service, hoping you push through enough patients to generate enough revenue, then pay your expenses (staff, office rent etc)and end up with net income of??

    Salaried physicians exist in other countries, and even here in SK already.

    If doctors were salaried and earned the same (or more) than they earn under the present system, you could actually attract doctors. Doctors who want to be doctors, not small business owners who may or may not be profitable depending on how many revenue generators, I mean patients, that they can see in a day.

    I for one would like to see actual numbers before dismissing something out of hand. What if paying doctors a healthy salary actually ends up costing less?

    Based on the info/research I've been able to find, the average doctor in SK bills just over $275k a year, less overhead of 27-35% means pre-tax take home of about $175k a year.

    There is what? 1700 physicians in the province? @ 200k salary each, that's $340M, less than 1% of current health care spending. And it would actually be less than that since the 1700 includes "non-clinical" docs, and the $340M would be pre-tax income to the physicians. They would still have to pay income tax. The prov would get ~$40-50M back in income tax alone, effectively reducing that $340M to $300M.

    Would this cost more or less than the current system? I have no idea. But I would like to see some actual research to find out.

  6. Continued...

    3. According to their website, the 20-1 ratio was for K-8. So I guess you agree with that part of their platform.

    "As for post-secondary tuition, taxpayers already pick up 80 to 90% of post-secondary costs."

    According to the Uni's financial statements it's about 67%, not 80-90. Student fees are about 11% of the UofS's revenue. About the same as what they make from "sales from services & products". Whatever is all included in that category. :-)

    The rest comes from other sources like investments, real estate income etc.

    So if the Uni could double their revenue from "sales from services & products", they could effectively eliminate tuition & student fees.

    How those numbers are across the whole post-secondary system would be interesting.

    SIAST is also about 68% "taxpayer" : 11% tuition & student fees.

    It would only cost $90M to make the U of S tuition free.

    It would cost about $24M to make SIAST tuition free.

    Relatively speaking, that isn't a whole lot of money. So when the Greens propose to make post secondary education tuition free, we seem to be 89% of the way there already. If this was football, we'd be 1st & 10 on the 11 yd line.

    Seems attainable, as long as we don't put Darrian in charge.

    The greens aren't going to get elected, so does it really matter what is in their platform? Only in that there may be some ideas that the current parties and the public haven't considered, or haven't gotten much public exposure.

    I for one have no problem with a 20-1 student teacher ratio, or eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel exploration/development, or reducing red tape that discourages the building of rental housing.

    But would I vote for them? Not likely. Simply because there are other parts of their platform that I could not support.

    But that does not mean that some of their proposals are not worth considering, discussing, debating etc.

  7. 6 of one or half a dozen of another?

    Students pay for about 11% of the post-secondary education, the government subsidized university pays for the remainder. Because the university is able to raise private funds doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day students pay a paltry 11% of their education.

    Secondly, in terms of your assertion on doctors your position is in conflict. There is no conceivable way a deal could be structured that is better for the doctors and better for the government. It is money passing from A to B. No matter how much you spin it either B gets more money (costing A more), or A pays less money (meaning B gets less). Run through all the algorithms you want, it is basic math at the end of the day.

    The problem with the Green platform is that the impractical take away from the practical. I could prepare the most complete, viable and sustainable budget but would lose all credibility the second I open my budget presentation with my plans to open a Unicorn Farm.

  8. Tuition isn't the barrier to education most make it out to be. This line of thought comes from the US where tuition is regularly between $7,000 and $11,000 and $40,000 a year at state schools, and $25,000 to $60,000 for private schools which pretty much unaffordable for the average young person.

    At the U of S, the average undergraduate tuition is less at $5,000 or $6,000 a year. This should seem like a reasonable investment provided that the student anticipates a decent job come graduation.

    (Incidentally, the biggest expense to students is not tutition, but rather being unemployed working while in school.)

    Students in Sask should be able to invest in their education at the present tuition rates, as it can create value through incerased employment opportunities and earning potential.

    And if they choose to be educated in a field that doesn't offer good job prospects, then perhaps they shouldn't be subsidized through free tutition to begin with.


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